Interview with Swiss-Ski.ch Swiss Ski CEO Bernhard Aregger comments on the current situation around the World Cup races on the Lauberhorn. Lucerne emphasizes the importance of the Wengen event and explains why Swiss-Ski is unable to meet the additional financial demands.
Bernhard Aregger, the request from Swiss-Ski to remove the World Cup races from the FIS long-term calendar, caused horror among Swiss ski fans. Did you expect such an outcry?
Bernhard Aregger: Of course we are aware that this decision is extremely unpopular. But we are concerned with taking responsibility and creating security for the future. It is completely understandable that ski fans in Switzerland are disappointed. The topic arouses great emotions – and ultimately that’s a good thing. If nobody was interested, it would not be good for Swiss skiing.
Why can’t Swiss-Ski respond to OK Wengen’s financial demands?
The Lauberhorn races are of great importance for skiing in this country and worldwide. But Swiss skiing includes much, much more than the three World Cup days in Wengen. If we have to pay the Wengener OK a lot more – an additional CHF 1 million a year – this will result in cuts in other places. For example, there would have to be major cuts in the offspring, i.e. our future of skiing. In order for us to be able to fight for first place in the Nations’ Cup for the alpines in the coming years, we have to invest in our base. We cannot rest on the sporting laurels. For example, we will use more funds at the European Cup level for the coming season, because we see a need to catch up here – apart from the World Cup glory. Therefore, in the past few days we have also felt understanding for our attitude towards the Wengen claim.
A World Cup season without the races in Wengen is nevertheless difficult to imagine and would also be a loss for Swiss Ski.
Nobody wants January without Lauberhorn races. We are aware of the emotional value and the importance of the spectacle at the foot of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. We therefore hope to be able to find a solution with the organizers so that the event can continue to be held in the coming years. But at the same time I would like to emphasize again that this cannot happen at any cost. The demands that Wengen has brought to us over the past four years are enormous. And when the OK of the Lauberhorn race charged us with the CAS International Sports Court two years ago, that was of course not conducive to the exchange between them. We have to check our legal options. By deciding to add the SUI placeholder to the Lauberhorn races, we neutralized the terrain and reduced our financial risk. In my opinion, what has not been expressed enough in the past few days: It is a long-term calendar of the FIS, which is initially provisional. We continue to work hard to find a constructive solution – our goal is to secure the Lauberhorn races in the long term.
How does it go on in this confused situation?
Swiss-Ski has always been ready to talk – and it is now. In any case, it is not acceptable for us to simply stretch out our hollow hands and ask for more. It is now a matter of finding a common solution.
What does Swiss Ski demand from OK Wengen?
First of all, Wengen has to do his homework himself. The Lauberhorn races are no longer the same event as in the eighties or nineties. When it comes to marketing, things have to go forward, and costs have to be optimized. We have given all organizers a lot more money in the past four years. Wengen gets the most by far, the race is important to us. We are happy to take on more responsibility and to work with all of our World Cup organizers to create a healthy financial basis for the Swiss World Cup races. It is important for us that Wengen will also participate in these processes in the future.